What is Beauty?
During his stay at the Isha Yoga Center on the days of Yaksha and Mahashivratri 2016, acclaimed fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee met with Sadhguru for a conversation on beauty, design, fashion, and yoga. Here is the first excerpt of their exchange of thoughts.
Moderator: What is beauty to you?
Sabyasachi Mukherjee: Many things have been written about beauty, but I have always felt that beauty actually stems from acceptance of yourself, and from your comfort levels. The moment you are comfortable about who you are, you feel beautiful. I would say style is if a woman who is five-foot-one wears flats to a party, rather than heels. I think when you accept yourself, your confidence level attracts other people to you, and that is probably what true beauty is.
Moderator: And what is beauty for a man?
Sabyasachi: I think it is comfort too. You see what happens with all of us in today’s world. I will give you a small example. I don’t practice yoga and I have not really been very kind to my body either, because of the pressures of the job. Now I was sitting at the Dhyanalinga until the bell rang – these were fifteen minutes I have spent with myself in a very long time. And I think most of us don’t feel beautiful because we don’t listen to ourselves – which is one of the reasons we always use clothing, brands, fashion, as a security blanket to feel good, without even knowing if it is really doing anything for us. On the contrary, it actually robs us of our confidence over time. So, whether it is a man or a woman, I think beauty starts with comfort.
Moderator: Sadhguru, what is beauty?
Sadhguru: If one has an eye for it, anything – whether it is a machine, an ant, a grasshopper, a human being, clothes, or a building – that fits and flows with the least amount of friction, always seems beautiful. Right from my childhood, I spent a lot of time paying attention to every kind of creature, and I found how fabulously designed even a tiny insect is, in terms of color, geometry, and variety of activity. If you look at any kind of creature, you will see how beautifully nature and evolution have perfected the design. Not only a large phenomenon like a sunrise or sunset – even the smallest creatures are very beautifully made.
If you measure how much activity, let’s say, an insect performs compared to its size and the energy it consumes, obviously it is geometrically perfect, and functioning with the least amount of friction. Anything that is well-made has always excited me – whether it is a machine, a building, an insect, an animal, or a human being. When it comes to human beings – when they are joyful and exuberant, everybody’s face is beautiful. To keep the body beautiful takes a little work. A lot of people are trying to take the shape of the planet. When I was growing up, almost all of us were skinny, because we were physically very active. Today, a large percentage of school children are overweight.
This does not mean that a round person is not beautiful. You can look at anything as beautiful. But if we are talking about beauty in technical terms, I think it is mainly about geometrical perfection. When the system operates with the least amount of friction, the very way it functions is beautiful. That holds true for everything. The dome of the Dhyanalinga, for example, is standing because of geometric perfection, not because of the strength of the material. The same applies to other buildings in the ashram as well, like the Adiyogi Alayam with its curved beams. We always sought to design every construction to be geometrically perfect, so that we need less material.
The evolutionary process has always looked at geometry. The planet is sticking to its pathway because it has achieved a kind of geometric perfection. If it goes slightly off its orbit, it cannot come back again. The entire universe is geometric perfection. If I look at a tree, a cloud, a man, a woman, or anything else – for me, it is first of all about the geometry – everything else comes second. Any form in existence that does not find some kind of geometric harmony will not last – no matter what it is. The entire yogic system is about aligning your body to the cosmic geometry, so that if you sit here for two days, it is still no issue, because you have understood the geometry of the body.
Moderator: It is interesting that both of you, in your responses, don’t mention the aesthetic as a separate category. For many people, the notion is that the utilitarian and the aesthetic are separate in some way. Certainly, when you, Sabyasachi, talk of comfort, you talk about utility as aesthetics. And Sadhguru, you are doing that as well, more fundamentally. Can inefficiency be beautiful? I’m thinking of something like a flower that has no utilitarian value for anything but the plant. But for the onlooker, it is of extraordinary beauty because of its symmetry and geometry – is that what you are saying?
Sadhguru: A flower is such a fragile thing, but it manages to stay intact as long as it needs to be in order to fulfill its purpose. Fragile as it is in terms of material, if there was no geometrical harmony, this would not be possible. In fact, in nature, everything is in geometrical harmony, because the very forces are like that.